The Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union (HKPTU) has rejected claims that it has championed the inclusion of a controversial political title on a shortlist for “Secondary Students’ Best Ten Books Election” this year, Ming Pao Daily News reported.
Dismissing charges that the teachers’ body has shown undue interest in promoting “Hong Kong City-State Autonomy”, a book that discusses the issue of Hong Kong independence, HKPTU President Fung Wai-wah said the professional association is not involved in the judging process of the books election.
The event has a long history with wide-encompassing areas of subjects, and it never imposed restrictions with regard to inclusion of any types of books, including those dealing with political topics, Fung was quoted as saying.
Jointly held by the HKPTU and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), the annual election will see ten books being selected from 60 shortlisted titles via public voting.
Some pro-Beijing groups have accused the HKPTU of helping to spread Hong Kong independence messages by promoting “Hong Kong City-State Autonomy”, a book written by Chin Wan, onto the short list of 60 books.
Ta Kung Pao, whose sympathies lie with Beijing, ran a front-page article condemning the HKPTU for promoting Hong Kong independence. The newspaper questioned if there are political agendas behind the book choices, and also accused the HKPTU of not disclosing the judging guidelines for the competition.
The article went on to suggest that some of the authors of the shortlisted titles had been participants in the Occupy pro-democracy protests last year.
The presence of some controversial personalities at the election’s forum discussion activities could spread political messages to secondary school students, it added.
HKPTU’s Fung, meanwhile, pointed out that it is entirely up to the students to decide whether they will read the books being selected.
The final list of ten books are selected by librarians and Chinese subject teachers, with their decisions based on factors such as readability and the subject variety.
Fung stressed that books could be selected as long as they are legal and do not promote pornography or violence.
DAB Legislator Ip Kwok-him said Chin Wan’s book “has obvious localism flavors” and that the HKPTU should not recommend such a title to secondary school students.
The professional teachers’ union should act as a gatekeeper and recommend the right books to students, Ip added.
– Contact us at [email protected]